The commissioner of the NYPD, Bill Bratton, has made the suggestion of raising the charge of resisting arrest to a felony.
At a joint hearing on Wednesday with the four State Senate committees, Bratton made the suggestion along with a number of other recommendations. “I think a felony,” said Bratton according to the Observer, “would be very helpful in terms of raising the bar significantly in the penalty for the resistance of arrest.”
Currently, resisting arrest in the state of New York is a misdemeanor charge, but Bratton said the current penalties for the charge are not enough to deter the nearly 2,000 resisting arrest charges per year in the city. According to the New York Post, the charge rarely gets prosecuted in court, but if it were raised to a felony this could change. “We’re asking district attorneys to treat them more seriously than they have been treated in the past.” said Bratton.
Bratton did acknowledge some of the cases involving the charge may not be legitimate, however.
A report published in December last year by the WNYC by retired criminal justice professor Sam Walker, says, “There’s a widespread pattern in American policing where resisting arrest charges are used to sort of cover – and that phrase is used – the officer’s use of force… Why did the officer use force? Well, the person was resisting arrest.”
According to this same article, not all officers fall into this category of using the charge as a “cover.” Records uncovered by Walker show the number of NYPD officers who are involved in civilian complaints related to an officer’s use of force, are a very small percentage.
“If there are 10 lawsuits — lawsuits — there’s something wrong here,” said Candace McCoy, a professor at the Graduate Center and John Jay College at the City University of New York in the same report. “And if this person has not been reprimanded and controlled there’s something wrong.”
Some of the other suggestions made by Bratton, which did not generate as much controversy, are having heavier penalties for individuals who fatally attack law enforcement officers, installing bulletproof glass in police vehicles, and possible punishments for people who publish personal information of officers.